Anyone catch yesterday's episode of Fresh Air with Terri Gross on NPR? The Gross Meister's guest was Rolling Stone contributor and author of Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age Steve Knopper. He provided a pretty encompassing synopsis of where the RIAA has gone wrong and where they're headed. A brief run-down of what Knopper had to say after the jump.
- The death of the record industry begins with a boom: the introduction of the CD. Retailers realize immediately that they can jack up prices, and they do so continually. They then charge many artists with retroactive technology fees.
- The DAT tape concerns the record industry. DAT tapes mean users can make pristine copies! The RIAA lobbies with the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992.
- Burning and ripping show up. The RIAA looks dumb.
- "Big box stores" like Wal-Mart and Target begin to cut prices of their albums to get people into the store to buy refrigerators.
- Napster gets their ass sued, and thus the industry misses their chance to get on board with file-sharing. It was the future of the business and, yet again, the record industry began swinging blindly at the new hip shit they just didn't understand.
- Sony BMG uses copyright protection technology to fuck up folks' computers just for ripping their CDs. Then they sue file-sharing students (i.e. their customers). Record industry looks like a bunch of douches AGAIN.
- And the latest news: iTunes is switching up their prices. Instead of $0.99 for all tracks, they'll charge $0.69 for material from artists' back-catalogs and $1.29 for "hot hits." Copying restrictions have also changed. Downloads through iTunes make it very difficult to play a track on anything but an iPod. Like Best Buy getting people to buy refrigerators by luring them into the store with cheap CDs, Steve Jobs is getting people to buy iPods by doling out cheap digital downloads that don't really work with other mp3 devices. Steve Jobs wins.
So there you have it. It seems like the RIAA consistently remains about three years behind every trend. So each time we, the consumers, become accustomed to something, the suits bust it up. You can stream this episode of Fresh Air for free or sign up for their podcast at their website.